Filmhouse vows to press ahead with new £50 million 'temple' on Lothian Road

The organisers of the Edinburgh International Film Festival have vowed to press ahead with plans for a new £50 million 'film temple' despite the impact of the coronavirus epidemic.

Thursday, 26th March 2020, 5:20 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th March 2020, 7:39 pm
The vision for the proposed development has been described as "a 21st century temple for film."
The vision for the proposed development has been described as "a 21st century temple for film."

Plans for the 11-storey development, which would also create a new home for the Filmhouse cinema in the city's west end, were unveiled earlier this month.

However this year's film festival, which was due to take place in June, and the Filmhouse has been forced into lockdown along with cultural venues across the UK.

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Several consultation events had been lined up in March and April to gauge public opinion on the plans for the futuristic "carbon-neutral" building, which is hoped to by open by 2025, subject to planning permission.

But these have now been shelved in favour of an online-only consultation, which is being run with the city council's planning department. It is hoped different interest groups will be able to take part in a series of video meetings.

It is still hoped to submit details plans for the 121 ft tall building in the summer.

The Centre for the Moving Image, which runs both the film festival and the Filmhouse, hopes to double the capacity of the existing cinema with the new building, which would boast six cinema screens below ground. Other planned features include a creative industries hub, a Festival Centre, a rooftop bar and event space with a retractable roof, a cafe-bar, a restaurant and outdoor terrace.

The CMI announced that a deal has been agreed in principle to allow the project to be created in Festival Square, a controversial public space created in the 1980s.

A statement issued by the CMI today said it was "adapting" its current consultation, which has been running on the Filmhouse and film festival websites.

It states: "The bold new vision to create an internationally significant, fully accessible and environmentally sustainable landmark home for film and screen culture in Edinburgh has already secured over 150 responses through the Filmhouse and film festival websites and more through other avenues of feedback.

“Although the Filmhouse is currently closed and the festival has been postponed, it is hoped that people may find time to engage with a more digital-based consultation process in the coming weeks.

"Information on the proposed development including architect drawings and visualisations, the background to the development and FAQs are available on the Filmhouse website. People can give feedback through a simple online survey on Filmhouse and EIFF websites.

"The project team is currently creating a series of further digital resources, which will draw out different aspects of the building and its purpose responding to some of the questions emerging from the consultation feedback so far.

"The presentation planned for the public and members’ events will also be recorded and shared through the same digital channels.

"We will continue to look at options for how people can engage with the consultation process, working with the council’s planning department.

“The team is doing its best in this current context to reach out to as wide a range of audiences, customers, interest groups and stakeholders, and will be inviting people from organisations or networks representing special interests to attend video meetings to have more focused discussions about the designs."